4 Rules I (try to) Live By: #2 Edification Before Entertainment

Not as often as my first rule (Always Bring A Book), but at times, my children hear me say, “Edification before entertainment.”

By edification I mean that which instructs, inspires, encourages, challenges or educates.  By entertainment, I mean…well that one needs little definition.

Choosing one thing necessarily means not choosing another thing.  The choice isn’t always clearly lined up for us, but it exist nonetheless.  If I choose a donut for breakfast, I have chosen not to eat a banana.  Of course, I could have both.  But even then I am leaving pancakes, muffins, toast, eggs, bacon, and many other things untouched.

Investing time is like that.  When I choose to watch television, I am thereby, choosing not to read a book.  Of course, like the donut and banana, I could choose both at the same time.  Reading while listening to the television, or watching during commercials.  I’ve done that many times and so have you.

But the point still stands.  We can’t do everything.  And some things are more worthy of our time that other things.  Not that I want to judge how anyone else uses their time, but for me, I try to choose that which is most profitable at any given moment.

Such thinking can lead to tyranny of the calendar.  In my efforts to not “waste” time I need to weigh the importance of relationships and rest.  These are crucially important but when engaged in these activities it might seem like one is not using time well.

Here is an example.  What happens if I would like to read a good book in the evening (which I usually do) and my wife would like to spend time with me?  We could read together.  I have read many books to her.  Or we could sit together on the couch and talk.  Or we could watch a movie.  The movie may or may not be the most edifying way to spend my time, but the time with my wife and the shared conversation about the show afterwards is invaluable.  So, even when it appears that I am leisurely watching a show, I have usually calculated the pros and cons of the time invested.

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Rarely do I play video games.  Not that I’m against them.  Okay, truth be told, I’m mostly against them.  Time spent with them falls into the category of the above example.  If I am playing with my children and enjoying fellowship with them then one might find me with game controller in hand.  But to watch a movie alone?  Or to play video games alone?  Are you kidding?  Not me.

Again, I’m not trying to set a standard for anyone else.  This is, after all, my blog and my rule to live by.  You may have your own.

By the way, just choosing a book over a movie isn’t the point.  A movie that is inspirational, historical, encouraging, or educational wins out over a novel that only entertains.

The point about my rule is that choosing to be edified comes first.  Entertainment happens.  Without much effort.  Choosing to be edified takes a little effort.

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